Warm Up with A Pilates Foam Roller: Getting Started
Before you buy a foam roller and start using it, there are some factors to consider such as types of foam rollers, as well as the position in which you put yourself once you’re on the foam roller, and how you breathe on the foam roller, co-contracting on your foam roller, and doing basic pelvic bowl warm-ups.
Types of Foam Rollers
Foam rollers come in varying levels of hardness. If you have a sensitive back or are brand new to Pilates, I would recommend one of the softer kinds of foam rollers. Otherwise, I would recommend a rather firm foam roller, simply because these make it harder to balance and are more effective at massaging your muscles when you roll your body across them.
Positioning Yourself on a Foam Roller
Always when lying supine on the mat, you will want to make sure that your important Pilates anchor points...
- The base of your scull
- Your shoulder blades
- The base of your ribcage
- Your sacrum
Breathing on a Foam Roller
The nice thing about doing this breathing on a foam roller is that you get nice tactile feedback. As you inhale, you should try to visualize your ribcage wrapping around the foam roller as you breathe into the sides and back of your ribcage.
Co-Contracting and Pelvic Bowl Exercises
Co-Contracting on a foam roller is the same as on a mat, except you’ll have to do it more effectively or else you’ll find yourself wobbling around due to instability. To stay balanced on a foam roller, you need to keep your abdonimals solid. This provides a little extra workout as you go through your warm-up exercises!
Once you’re set up with your breath and co-contraction, start your warm-up with some simple pelvic bowl exercises. With these, you co-contract to use only your deep, inner abdominal muscles to tilt your pelvis toward your head (12:00) and toward your feet (6:00). Keep in mind that these movements should ONLY be initiated by your abdominal muscles; not by arching your back or pushing with your legs- that would defeat the purpose!
Once you have done these things, you are ready to start some basic warm-up exercises. There are many lovely ones to relax your shoulders, improve your posture, and massage your back. With some basic tips and a nice foam roller, your Pilates mat warm-up (and even more advanced exercises) can be made loads more effective- I hope you consider adding this accessory!